“At the middle of the season…” Can Ryu Hyun-jin win the still open ‘5th starting pitcher’ like he did 10 years ago?

  • February 12, 2023

Ryu Hyun-jin (36), who underwent the second Tommy John surgery in his career in June of last year, is sweating in rehabilitation with the goal of returning in July this year. 

Hyun-Jin Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million contract with Toronto ahead of the 2020 season. The compatibility between Toronto and Ryu Hyun-jin in the first two years was quite satisfactory, but his last two years were more likely to lead to a “sad ending” due to injuries and surgeries. However, for Ryu Hyun-jin himself and for his team, he has to successfully return and show that he is healthy. 

First of all, in the U.S., they are making the assumption that Hyun-jin Ryu will return, and they are making predictions for this season. ‘MLB.com’ selected 5 starters as the first chapter while selecting ‘three things to watch in the 2023 Toronto spring camp’. The media predicted that Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and Korean pitcher Mitch White would form a competitive landscape for the opening 5 starter spot. 

Kikuchi recorded 6 wins, 7 losses and an average ERA of 5.19 in 32 games (20 starts) last year. He started as a starting pitcher, but was demoted to the bullpen without resolving his chronic difficulty in pitching. White was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers in August of last year. He had 5 losses and a 7.74 earned run average in 10 games (8 starts) in Toronto without a win. With the Dodgers, he recorded 1 win, 2 losses and an ERA of 3.70 in 15 games (10 starts), but his performance deteriorated after the trade.

Currently, the four starters of Alec Manoa, Kevin Gaussman, Chris Bassett, and Jose Berrios have been virtually confirmed. The remaining five starters are expected to compete with Kikuchi and White. The media said, ‘Kikuchi and White will compete for the 5th starting spot. Kikuchi’s performance worsened as he lost control of the strike zone. As a left pitcher, he has the advantage of being able to make it with velocity and movement at the top of the strike zone, but that’s it,’ he said. ‘Kikuchi needs to catch his first pitch, especially in the early stages of the game, but in 2022, Kikuchi’s first inning was like Mount Everest,’ he explained. Obviously, pitch is a strong point, but control problems are chronic. If this problem is not resolved, Kikuchi is expected to be eliminated from the 5th starting lineup.

“Both Kikuchi and White can be swingmen in the bullpen. So the player who loses in this competition is likely to go to swingman,” he emphasized.

And the media also added that ‘Ryu Hyun-jin, who returns for the season, or Ricky Tideman, a top prospect, may be an option’. It was reminded that Ryu Hyun-jin, who will return from surgery, can also be a clear fifth starting option.  안전놀이터

The media mentioned that there are still more contenders such as Jack Thompson, Drew Hutchison, and Yosver Zulueta, including prospect Tideman. 

The situation is completely different from when Ryu Hyun-jin first wore the Toronto uniform. It is not a reason or a situation that the club should recklessly create a seat just because it is empty. You have to compete at the origin. It is similar to when he debuted in the major leagues with the posting system in 2013, 10 years ago. After competing with major league veterans such as Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he won the starting spot. From Ryu Hyun-jin’s point of view, it is necessary to recall the memories of that time. 

Ryu Hyun-jin still has a chance. Last January, ‘MLB Trade Rumors’ said, ‘Ryu Hyun-jin is expected to be able to return before and after the All-Star break. The 5th starter only needs to hold out for the first half,” he said, looking forward to returning to the 5th starter with hope. Will Ryu Hyun-jin be able to regain the 5th starter spot from the starting point?

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